Connected Learning with Hatch and Georgia DECAL

Naomi Polinsky, PhD

Dec. 8, 2023

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Summer is a season filled with excitement and fun adventures, but it also brings the challenge of the dreaded "summer slide," when students can lose some of the knowledge and skills they worked so hard to gain during the school year (Quinn & Polikoff, 2017). For the third summer in a row, pre-K students in the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) Summer Transition Program kept the learning going throughout the sunny months, in part by using Ignite by Hatch™. Ignite is a digital learning tool for young learners that is designed, based on research from the learning sciences, to support kindergarten readiness (Hatch Early Learning, 2022). When children engage with Ignite, they practice and demonstrate their understanding of standards-aligned skills across seven domains: Mathematics, Literacy, Language & Communication Development, Social and Emotional Learning, Science & Technology, Physical Development, and Social Studies. As children play in Ignite, they move through a series of eight levels of skills in each domain that become progressively more rigorous. Levels 1–3 in Ignite are aligned to the pre-foundational skills children are expected to learn in preschool. Level 4 skills are aligned with kindergarten readiness, and Levels 5–8 move into elementary-school skills.  

This summer, researchers at Hatch™, in partnership with the Georgia DECAL team, wanted to see how the literacy and mathematics skills children demonstrated in Ignite connected with their skills, as measured by an external assessment. After about 5 weeks of Ignite playtime, for an average of almost 2 hours of total Ignite engagement, around 1,650 children who played Ignite were rated by their teachers in their literacy and mathematics skills. The rating scales, created by Hatch researchers, offered a way for teachers to rate a child's developmental progress based on specific instructional objectives aligned with the Georgia Early Learning Development Standards. A third-party psychometrician used statistical analyses to examine the connection between progress in Ignite and children’s developmental skills in mathematics and literacy, as rated by their teachers.  

The results were exciting! The literacy and mathematics assessments proved to be reliable tools for evaluating developmental progress in preschool-aged children. They aligned perfectly with the expected developmental trajectory. Moreover, as children spent more time with Ignite, they not only engaged more with the games but also reached higher skill levels. The best part? Children who achieved higher levels in Ignite also scored higher in the external assessments, showcasing a clear link between Ignite achievement and literacy and mathematics skills.  

These exciting results made two points clear. First, the connection between progress in Ignite and children’s literacy and mathematics skills shows the potential of the Ignite educational system to support children's skill development when used effectively. Second, Ignite can be a valuable tool for keeping children on track towards kindergarten readiness throughout the sunny, summer months!  



Hatch Early Learning (2022, June). Research foundation: Ignite by Hatch™.  


Quinn, D. M., & Polikoff, M. (2017, September 4). Summer learning loss: What is it, and what can we do about it? Brookings Institution.  https://www.brookings.edu/articles/summer-learning-loss-what-is-it-and-what-can-we-do-about-it/ 


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